Asylum policy and human rights: The UK wants to have the last word

Status: 22.06.2022 17:28

One week ago, the European Court of Human Rights stopped a British deportation flight to Rwanda. The government in London wants to prevent such interference in the future – by means of a corresponding law.

The British government no longer wants to accept the European Court of Human Rights as a last resort on human rights issues. Justice Minister Dominic Raab made this clear in the London Parliament when he presented the corresponding bill.

The law, known as the Bill of Rights, will ensure that the British Supreme Court has the final say in these matters in the future, Raab said in the House of Commons. In addition, the planned law should ensure that court orders from Strasbourg judges are no longer binding in the UK.

The aim is to strengthen the British tradition of freedom and breathe into the system a “good deal of common sense”. Authorities would be able to “expel more foreign criminals and better protect the public from dangerous criminals,” Raab told Sky News.

London spoke of interference

Last week, a Strasbourg court ruling blocked Britain’s controversial plan to send asylum seekers of various nationalities by plane to Rwanda, where they would apply for asylum instead. The judges have ruled that the British judiciary has yet to scrutinize the legality of the deportations.

The British government reacted angrily and spoke of a “politically motivated” decision. The view that the decision of the European Court of Justice has a political dimension fits into the London view of the threat to British sovereignty posed by the European institutions. Under the new rules, British courts will have the final say in such cases.

Not a complete retreat

However, the ECtHR is not part of the European Union from which the United Kingdom withdrew. Instead, it is a judicial body of the Council of Europe, of which the United Kingdom remains a member. Complaints against all 46 Member States can be brought to court on suspected violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Britain has so far refused to withdraw from the human rights convention, as Russia has recently done. Justice Minister Raab wants to stick to it, but change the implementation of the convention and deal with the corresponding judgments.

What is the European Court of Human Rights?

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), based in Strasbourg, is not a body of the European Union. The Council of Europe stands for the ECtHR. Non-EU countries are also members – such as Turkey or the United Kingdom. For this reason, the ECtHR may also make binding decisions for these countries. The content of the Strasbourg judges examines whether the relevant state measures are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The road to the ECtHR is usually open only when legal remedies at the national level are exhausted, ie no further remedies are possible in the country. In cases of particular urgency, Strasbourg may also take an interim decision under the urgency procedure. In these cases, the content is mostly about the threat of deportation. In the past, 100 to 200 such urgent requests per year have been successful.

Author: Christoph Kehlbach and Maximilian Bauer, ARD Legal Department

Sharp criticism of lawyers

The opposition Labor Party and human rights organizations were concerned. Amnesty International UK said the plan was “a huge step backwards for ordinary people’s rights”.

The proposed legal regulation was also criticized by the Law Society. This will make some human rights violations in Britain acceptable, according to the BBC, President Stephanie Boyce said. It also gives the state more power over its citizens – the power that all future governments would have, regardless of their goals and values.

GB partially deviates from the European Convention on Human Rights

Christoph Proessl, ARD London, 22/06/2022 17:24

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